they probably warned us, those adoption classes and books and seasoned parents. they probably slapped it out plain as day and i, relentlessly starry-eyed, chose to believe we'd be the exception to the rule.
but here it is, staring me straight in the eyeballs: adopting a child can launch a unilateral, full-scale assault on your marriage.
first off, let me underline the word can. every child is different, every family is different, and i certainly know quite a few adoptive families who have flourished from the get-go.
but sometimes, the goings are rough. you're weaving about after eons of sleep deprivation, deaf in one ear from a child who knows his way around a tantrum. your patience has been pancaked by a mack truck driven by a kid too short to see out the windshield, and you can't even closet yourself in the bathroom for a gulp of sanity because the door stopped fully closing months ago.
the easiest thing to do, in times like these, is unleash a steaming load of ugly on the nearest Person Who Can Take It, most likely your so-called beloved. the hardest thing to do, but also the verybest thing, is cling to that spouse for dear life, spell out every last thing you love about him, give him an evening off from all that claws for his attention.
todd and i have weathered a few thorny patches in the last half year. at times we were snared by our son's triangulation, and it seemed nothing was working and the universe was going to pot and it very much looked like the other parent's fault.
but after a few of those patches we got honest. we shucked the excuses and the pride and just showed up, a smear of vulnerability. and we learned, and keep learning, the fine art of hearing. affirming. of aching together and not knowing a single answer but gripping close a God who doesn't fail.
i am sure we have miles of growth in store. and i am certain there are veritable forests of thorns ahead. but i also know that i've never been so in love with my husband. and so clearly that was never the point of this adoption, but oh, what a tender off-shoot.
it's a gift, this waking up each morning to a life with you in it. i'm overwhelmed.
it's a hard time of year, barbed in cold, the sky ashen with winter's grief, and we indoors conserving warmth and hope.
and sometimes the lack of light makes my insides molder, but i can hear a small voice from the kitchen table as my boy draws and sings and makes himself a little bit at home.
and the mister wears tenderness like skin, and our church-family-soul-friends, we ache and yearn and revel together
and this God, this giant, rattling God, he loves, loves, loves me. fiercely. inexplicably.
and so even three-quarters frozen we flame with the wonder of Him.
loving this quote today:
'one who is truly an instrument of God's peace offers, in return for the injury, only one thing: pardon, remembering the millions of pounds he himself owed to the King, and how utterly he was pardoned.' (elisabeth elliot)
sometimes i want to award shiny medals to the people under this roof for still being upright and functional at the end of the week. it's been a hairy six days and counting.
nonetheless. there's a clean blanket of winter on the ground and thick oatmeal and direly-needed haircuts and play. and also a boy who for the first time in all of ever reached for his daddy when he cried.
and so God shows up over and again, the most beautiful instance being that little m's best mate from the care center has been cleared for a visa interview. b is coming home, hallelujah.
and when i frame the week in those terms, i suppose it's a keeper after all.
saturday was christmas in ethiopia, so we got to unleash our festiveness again. (for the record: i am all about the double christmas. we should have done this always.)
little m donned his tunic and elle her scarf, and thus properly attired they perched on a deck chair in the sunroom to belt out christmas tunes at optimum volume.
they are cute, but they sing LOUD.
meanwhile, i logged about four miles traipsing back and forth between my desktop* and stove in a stalwart attempt to dredge up something resembling a traditional meal. (i am giantly obliged to shonda's blog for its delectable, well-indexed recipes. bless you, s.)
my sega wat (beef stew), doro wat (chicken stew) and gomen (collard greens) were none too shabby, but my poor injera ended up more like a stack of crusty crepes. sad times.
(warning: i am going to show you a photo of my food-stuffs. they are kind of homely.)
(normally, as in if someone else had made it, ethiopian food would look lovely and edible. however, i did the making, so this is what we've got.)
i know. i almost spared you the photo, but when you cook for three hours you really have to document the result, kodak moment or not. in any case, we had a grand time at dinner. (right up till the moment where some of us refused to eat because we have figured out that mom and dad want us to eat and therefore we are not planning on doing it ever again, thank you very much.) but aside from that, completely grand.
now if only we could do a triple christmas.
thankful today: for food on our table two handed euchre with my son unseasonable warmth john green biscotti from the madre new small-group friends penicillin horsey swings how little m's lashes curl just like the mister's matthew 6.33 and isaiah 53
*i can hear y'all shouting mobile devices at me, but i think we know by now that i am a Bad Member of the 21st Century. i am still wrapping my mind around texting, people. one thing at a time.
the older kidlets and the mister have been on holiday this week, so we've been settling catan and netflixing and de-beaning edamame by the bowlful. i've a feeling these rooms will turn downright cavernous come monday when it's just little m and me tootling through the halls.
this past tuesday marked six months home for our youngest fellow. it's been a weighty half year, but he's grown and i've (against my will, but still) grown and sometimes it's good for my soul to look back and see just how much ground we've covered.
early july 2011, age 5 :: early january 2012, age 5.5
as of january third, little m: no longer uses his hair as a napkin can hop on one foot indefinitely is well-versed in spongebob and perry the platypus adds and subtracts with counters can pretend-play with his bear, cookie spells semi-phonetically no longer calls all women 'mommy' dances when he thinks i'm not looking requests DUCK ON A BIKE many times per day has stronger nails and an expanding hairline draws on paper instead of walls/chairs/arms/pantlegs has twice echoed back a lightning-quick 'i love you' will occasionally circle his arms around me when i hug him
things little m is currently learning: family is more than the sum of people who happen to be in your house everyone else is valuable too mom/dad can say no and still love you mom/dad can say no because they love you how to choose to do something one doesn't want to do, and vice-versa abiding by the rules when mom leaves the room how to elicit affirmation without wailing, breath-holding, or baby-talking speaking the truth doing your own work your parents would give their lives to preserve yours, and they love you more fiercely than anyone else will
i tend toward autonomy and self-sufficiency, so internally i squirm a bit at how needy we've been these past six months. but far from shying away, y'all have come through brilliantly: cooking and praying and listening and cutting us an enormous length of slack.